Working from home is everybody’s dream. Who doesn’t want to rock out in their pajamas every day? The reality of not having to go to the office each morning is great, but working from home has its downsides. When there’s no set end to the day, it’s hard to know when enough is enough.
Set up a separate workspace, to keep your work at work and your home at home. Working in one set place will allow you to walk away when you need to. It’s important you take the time to get your office exactly how you want it. Here are some home office tips you ought to consider.
LAY THE FOUNDATIONS
From the off, you should bear in mind that you’ll be spending extended periods of time in your office. Lay the right foundation to ensure your comfort and your business success.
For example, think of how you’ll be heating the room. As you’re home all the time, sticking the heating on could get expensive. Consider alternate heat saving methods, such as double glazing or spray foam equipment to save yourself money.
Think, too, about the decor. Aim to create an ambient space that you can concentrate in. Avoid loud colors that could get on your nerves. Neutral colors might be the best bet. They may be uninspiring, but they’re unlikely to lead to distraction or give you a headache!
Flooring is important, too. Carpet could help keep the room warm, but wood flooring is easier to keep clean.
GET THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
Once the foundations are in place, turn your attention to the equipment you need. This will vary depending on your venture, but it’s likely you’ll need these basics. Look for a desk that offers you the right amount of storage space to keep papers in should you need to. Desk drawers are excellent for file storage. You’re going to need to keep the surface of your desk clear, so you’re able to work without clutter.
Think, too, about a good chair. Remember that you’ll be sitting for extended periods of time. A chair with good support and cushioning is a must.
You’ll need to stock up on a reliable computer and a good printer, too. When searching for a computer, pick one with a software package you’re already familiar with. With printers, you’ll need one that offers the chance to photocopy, fax and scan.
And don’t forget to stock up on stationary. Buy in bulk, and don’t worry about the money; you can claim it on expenses in your tax form!
Making the room your own is where the fun starts. Adding personal touches will make you feel comfortable and inspired. Bookshelves and books are always a nice touch, as are fresh plants and personal pictures. Be careful to strike the right balance here. You don’t want to get distracted while you’re working. With your books, stick to business books that you won’t get lost in when you should be working.
If you’re a business owner, you’re going to be dealing with constant and consistent threats to your workplace.
If it’s not the competition undercutting you, or someone stealing an idea, it’s going to be general theft and the safety of your premises. Another threat may be someone trying to pinch your employees from you.
Business in the modern day seems more about protecting yourself and your work than working.
The truth is that businesses are going to face threats on a daily basis and these threats are going to originate in more places than one.
Even if your business doesn’t have a physical presence, the newest and worst threat to your livelihood and work is cyber-crime. If your business has a web presence, and it should have, it’s a target for more criminals than ever. What’s worse is that you could be leaving the door wide open for them.
Your business is going to hold a lot of valuable data and financial information, and it’s perhaps the data that is more of a target to cyber criminals than the financial information. If you think about it, there’s a limit to the amount of success one can experience with access to financial information. Data, on the other hand, is gold dust.
Think of lead generation. People interested in your business are leads, and if you’re doing business right, you’re going to hold a lot of information on your systems about your customers. The information of your customers is going to generate a lot of leads for someone out there, and criminals know that. The information held on your systems will attract a lot of bidders, and it’s probably going to be held less securely than financial information.
It’s so imperative to either encrypt data, or to assess whether you actually need it or not. If you’re holding onto information that isn’t needed, you could put people and your business at risk. Not only that, but data you do not need is taking up space. Either encrypt it or securely destroy it. It’s going to make your business a lot less of a tempting raid.
If you need help with keeping your computers safe, seek it immediately. This isn’t light-hearted, and if you’re a victim because of your lack of computing knowledge, it could be disastrous. Seeking managed IT security services might be a good idea if you’re not in the know.
Anti-virus software is above all, the key to keeping your computers safe. If a virus gets in through a download, you need to ensure that you are protected, and this software will do that for you. Each download should be scanned. If you’re not deploying anti-virus software, then you are in immediate danger. Resolve that error quickly. Being the victim of a trojan or ransomware isn’t fun at all.
Safeguarding your business is a daily task and one you above all need to take seriously. Being the victim of cyber-crime doesn’t just put you in danger; it puts your customers at risk. Business is based on trust, and if your clients cannot trust you, it’s over.
Your business is made of people, or it will be soon if you’re hoping to grow much in the future. With this in mind, it’s very important to approach your HR in the right way, ensuring that your staff have all they need to succeed, and being treated in a way that’s ethical and legal.
Despite the huge importance of HR within a business, there are a lot of mistakes which are frighteningly common among new business owners. Here are some of the big ones you need to avoid.
This is one of the most damaging HR mistakes it’s possible for the higher-ups at a business to make, and it’s also one of the most common when a business is going through its first recruitment drive. People are busy, the organization is moving swiftly forward, and those all-important job descriptions can easily end up falling to the bottom of the pile. This can result in a whole workforce who aren’t quite sure what they need to be doing, expectations which aren’t properly managed, and difficulties for the upper management when it comes to measuring performance.
It may seem like a fairly minor part of HR, but job descriptions are exceedingly important. Treat them as one more piece of documentation that will enable you to hire, manage and possibly fire employees with minimal complications.
Not Exercising Discretion in Interviews
We’re pretty lucky to live in a developed Western country, where we have a lot of freedom as to what we can ask when interviewing candidates for a job. Having said that, there are definitely limits. You have to be aware that some questions are riskier than others, and that there are certain ones which are totally illegal. Legal issues, of course, lead to litigation, which leads to mounting legal fees and a lot of unnecessary stress.
Be sure to find out what’s acceptable and what’s not, and draft a list of perfectly legal interview questions focussed strictly on the role. Avoid anything regarding religion, national background, age and so on. To make sure you’re keeping yourself out of any hot water, it may be worth hiring some legal counsel from firms such as Ellis Whittam.
Not Documenting and Addressing Employee Problems
Having to deal with a problem employee is one of the most frustrating things an employer can have to go through, and if you’ve never been in this position before it can be extremely daunting just to get the ball rolling. Still, it’s a big mistake to tell yourself that you’re too busy to deal with the issue, or ignore it and hope that it will go away on its own.
Be sure to stay on top of employee performance, and avoid letting any kind of performance issues get out of hand. You need to be documenting employee performance from the day they start work, and addressing any issues as and when they come up. Set out a company policy for corrective action, and create action plans specific to the individual.
Most importantly though, keep records of everything. If you want to fire or suspend an employee, then you’ll need this to fall back on.
Failing to Update your Employee Handbook, or Not Keeping One At All
It’s always shocking when I talk to a small business owner, and they say that they don’t keep an employee handbook as it’s going to restrict them somehow or cause complications. If this has been your attitude so far, then it needs to change immediately! There are rules in your workplace, whether they’re written down anywhere or not. All the standards that you’ve outlined to your employees, however you’ve outlined them, are policies.
If you’re not codifying these policies, then you’ll only be opening yourself up to all kinds of legal and practical problems. The trick here is making sure your handbook stays updated. It’s an HR consultant’s worst nightmare when a business is too small to offer the legally required benefits to their employees, and yet lists all kinds of benefits in the handbook that they weren’t actually in any position to provide.
Usually, this isn’t part of some intricate, shady scheme orchestrated by the employer, but simply comes out of ignorance. When drafting your employee handbook, make sure that all your policies are set out clearly, and that you’re including all of the clauses the law requires.
Dealing with your HR can be quite demanding, but it certainly isn’t something you can afford to neglect. Moving forward, be sure to avoid all of these expensive blunders!
Marketing can make or break a business. You could have the most innovative product out there but if nobody knows about it then they aren’t going to buy or use it. You need to structure your marketing and tailor it to your business needs. Startups especially need all the help they can get to beat out competition from longstanding competitors. Here are some top tips for success within marketing.
Tailor Your Website
The majority of businesspersons who set up their own company have no idea how to code. It’s tough, very tough, and a quality website takes a while to formulate. But remember, it’s one of the biggest branding tools you have, think of it like a shop window. A mistake certain businesses make is setting up a generic website and not knowing whether it fits within their target niche.
For example, experts will know what kinds of websites work within each kind of specific area. The best dental websites are built by people who know what looks good and attracts custom. Find an expert in website creation and use them or at least research how other similar sites look in your field.
In the age of technology we sometimes forget tried and tested old school methods of marketing but they really do work. All they cost is time. Sure, you can pay for a bunch of business cards or flyers and post them but there’s nothing better than knocking doors and telling people about the new product you offer. It really does work and gets people engaged.
Of course, many people won’t want to know, and that’s fine, you tried. It drums up business for you new product in your local area. All it takes is a few interested people and word will quickly spread. You can also volunteer to speak at seminars and trade shows, this does the same thing but for people who have taken time out of their day to listen to what you say and is a tried and tested method of getting your brand out there.
Just like the old school methods work for some people, if you want your product to be seen by the younger generation and those who are tech savvy your best bet is to get it on social media.Create a page on Twitter and Facebook, then you need to post smart, coherent and well written content that will attract people to your page and hopefully your website, leading to sales.
Stay On Top Of Your Traffic
If you use a service like Google Analytics you can observe exactly how many people visit your website and also where they visited it from. This is great for ascertaining which elements of your marketing works and what doesn’t.
For example, if loads of traffic comes from Facebook but not Twitter you need to change something on twitter and vice versa. If you’re getting no traffic at all you need to up your content posting or instead start to increase the quality, there are many freelance writers out there who can write quality content for you if you don’t have the time to do it yourself.
If you’ve already had an incredible, fresh business idea floating around your head for a long time, then the prospect of finally turning it into a reality will be an exciting and slightly overwhelming one. You’ve found your gap in the market, so you want to act now and get everything done as quickly as possible.
Of course, while it is important to promote growth within your business and achieve as much as you can in the early days, in order to cover the costs incurred through simply starting a company, it’s all too easy to get carried away and make rash, unwise decisions.
Starting a new business, no matter how small or how large its overall aims, requires the following of a certain set of rules.
Ensure the concept is fully formed, first of all.
If your business idea is your dream job, and you’ve incorporated all the ideas or interests about which you’re passionate, then you might be telling yourself, “my business plan is already perfect.” However, you need to consider more than the creative idea behind your future business, because, in the real world, budgeting is everything.
If you’re a small business or a startup, it doesn’t matter how big your end goals are. Money is just as crucial to you in this early stage as any corporate giant, because the budget is low for every company in the beginning. It’s just as easy for any business, no matter the expertise of the employees and the appealing nature of the product or service on offer, to overstep that budget through poor planning.
Understand your industry.
You might have everything figured out in terms of your own business. You have a solid business plan, a clever budgeting scheme which covers every last expense, and a driven mentality. However, creating a successful small business from scratch relies not only on what is happening within that organization, but what is happening in the world surrounding you. You need to look at what competitors are doing within your industry and use that knowledge to drive your own business plan in a winning direction.
Don’t feel as if you’ve caved simply by looking for ideas elsewhere. It would reflect badly on your business to not do so, because, whilst it is important to be creative and form intelligent business plans which are unique to everything else available on the market, it is also important to assess what is already working within the marketplace. Your competitors will do the same to you when you’re successful.
Organize the financial side of your business.
Before you’ve even met your first customer, or partnered with your first client, it’s vital that you’ve considered every eventuality. In an ever-changing technological landscape, there are so many ways in which people can pay for goods and services, which means that you have to think about all of them in order to match up against the competition.
If you can find a low rate credit card processing solution that works for you, then you’ll find that all business and customer transactions run so much more smoothly within your organization.
The key is to make things as simple as possible for all those who might want to work with you, in order to ensure they don’t simply choose your competitors as they’re the more accessible alternative. If you accept all possible types of payment, you stand with a high chance of becoming the most accessible and attractive business within your specific industry.
Make the workplace fit your business and not the other way around.
So many businesses, and this applies to companies both new and decades-old, make the mistake of choosing any office space for their business. As a result, when you fail to create a working area which meets your business’ needs in terms of creativity, individual working, or team working, then you’re left with an unproductive workforce and a stale level of progression.
Creativity can’t be stifled, and that remains true in the business world. If open spaces work for your employees, then an open office plan is the way forward. If individual offices work better for your employees, given that they may need quiet conditions in order to work effectively, then that’s the office plan which you should be creating.
If you want your business to flourish, it’s important to remember what made the idea flourish in the first place. A sensible business head, planning, financial organization and budgeting are all as important as motivation. A business can only progress and succeed when its employees feel driven to make it progress and succeed.